Proposed bridge aesthetics. Photo courtesy of Caltrans

Caltrans plans to replace a 1930s-era bridge over Hurkey Creek in a project estimated to cost $2,237,000. The planned three-year project begins this month with overall project and environmental document approval, and concludes when construction is completed in July 2015. The affected area on Highway 74 is from mile marker 62.5 to 62.3 in Garner Valley, just north of Lake Hemet.

A Wednesday, May 31, presentation at the Nature Center by Caltrans project personnel drew few area attendees. The public presentation had been designed to answer questions about the project from area residents most likely to be affected by bridge construction.

The bridge, only 23 feet wide from side railing to railing, is too narrow for the present use by many larger and higher speed vehicles according to Shelli Lombardo, Caltrans District 8 public information officer. The replacement will nearly double bridge width to 43.5 feet.

At the meeting project planners presented a timeline for the five phases of the project: project approval and environmental document, June 2012; begin design, July 2012; award project, May 2014; begin construction, July 2014; and end construction, July 2015.

At the meeting the project was described as: “remove the existing Hurkey Creek Bridge; construct a two span, 43.5-foot wide, 50-foot long and 5-pile bridge; re-grade creek slopes nearest the bridge abutments for placing rocks for slope protection; construct four retaining walls at the bridge sides and install bridge approach railings; remove only trees within the new bridge path: and apply architectural treatments to minimize visual and cultural impacts.” Planners said that part of the project would include planting trees and vegetation appropriately once the bridge is constructed.

Project Manager Daniel Ciacchella noted that though the bridge had not yet been designed, based on prior bridge replacement projects he estimated the Hurkey Creek Bridge would be constructed one lane at a time. There would be one-way bridge traffic for about a three-month period out of the estimated one-year construction period commencing in July 2014.

During that same period, heavy truck traffic would be rerouted so as not to impact the construction site.

Public comments regarding the project can be filed through June 18 with Kurt Heidelberg in support or opposition to proceeding with a mitigated negative environmental declaration and initial project study. File comments with Heidelberg at 464 W. 4th Street, 6th Floor, MS 820, San Bernardino, CA 92401, or by email at [email protected].